The US and the Californian Constitution Compared

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A constitution is a document that contains a set of fundamental principles based on which a state or an institution is governed. The Constitution of United States was drafted in 1789 to support the desire of American people to embrace self-governance. The document replaced the confederation with a new form of government, and it included the concurrent powers of states (Souter & Souter, 2013). The Californian Constitution, on the other hand, was first adopted in November 1849 prior to California attaining the United States statehood in 1850. Californian Constitution was later ratified in 1879.

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The US and the Californian Constitution Compared


The American Constitution has many similarities with the Californian Constitution. The Californian constitution was drawn from the American Constitution. The main reason was the fact that the state of California was to operate under the United States legislation. Moreover, the Californians wanted to take advantage of more than seventy years of American constitution in work. Thus, similarities had to exist between the two constitutions. First of all, the Californian Constitution and the United States Constitution contain six identical protection areas which include: assembly rights, quartering soldiers prohibitions, unreasonable searches and seizures security, restrictive definition of treason, non-exclusivity of the enumeration rights assertion and the right of habeas corpus (Wood, 2012).

Secondly, the Californian and the American Constitutions are both reviewed by legislation. The people have trust in their representatives and thus have empowered them to improve, add and rectify the Constitution as they deem fit. The Constitution is mainly enforced by the Supreme Court in both locations. The Supreme Court is the ultimate law enforcement body both in the US and California. It governs the implementation of the Constitution and punishes the law breakers. California is among the many states, whose juries have used the rulings of the United States Supreme Court representatives as case studies to make conclusions concerning the challenging cases Californian courts encounter (Holzer, 2012).

Third similarity is that both the American and Californian Constitutions relied upon constitutions of other countries or states when developing their own government principles. The American Constitution greatly relied upon the Constitution of the Britons or the English people. The United States in the 17th century depended mostly on the English Constitution before the country recognized the need for self-governance. The requirement of self-governance was mainly attributed to the fact that the English law was unwritten, and thus the differentiation established between the state governance and the Constitution was insignificant. The Americans thus felt that the Constitution should be separated from the state, so the people have the power to claim what they needed to be contained in the Constitution. The citizens felt the need for the people to influence and control the legislation of the Constitution.

The Californian state was not different from the rest of the United States. Before the drafting of the Californian Constitution, the people of the state depended on the United States Constitution. They were governed by all the laws stated in the American Constitution, and their deeds were judged in accordance to the United States fundamental principles. Californians felt the inadequacy of the United States Constitution similarly to the other American people. Therefore, they sought to establish their own Constitution that would reflect the citizens needs. The perception of inadequacy of American Constitution brought about the drafting of the Californian Constitution in 1849 (Tarr, 2000).

Despite the American Constitution being the major source of information, the Californian Constitution relied on other different constitutions during the making of their Bill of Rights. California was not the first state in the USA to form a constitution; rather several other states were in existence. As a result, Californian state relied on other states constitutions, for example Iowa and New York states. It also relied on the American Constitution to a great extent, under which the newly founded constitution was to run.

Another similarity is that both the American and the Californian Constitutions sought to have a more detailed set of government principles. The Californian Constitution has a broader coverage and protection of individual rights as compared to the United States Constitution.

Lastly, the United States Constitution and the Californian Constitution advocate for one policy of self-governance. The United States people felt the need to dictate their own welfare and decide how the government will run. The self-governance policy is also reflected in the drafting of the Californian Constitution. The people of California wanted to establish a state of their own, which would enable them to choose their leaders, make the laws that favor the people living within that state, and control the legislation of their constitution. Self-governance would also help the people to uphold the ethical code and motivate people to identify ways of solving any grievances that rise.

Both the United States and the Californian Constitutions express the identical nature of the fundamental principles based on the Bible. They explained that the constitution required reading and memorizing. The principles also indicate that the constitution should be present in every family for the members to read and apply in their daily life. Both constitutions also acknowledge the fact that the constitution is ambiguous in nature. The ambiguousness has led to the differences in its analysis and interpretation that is evident in the courts of law. The judges, lawyers and prosecutors all have different understandings and interpretation of the laws.


The United States Constitution and the Californian Constitution also have many differences. The main difference is that the United States Constitution is a federal constitution, while us the Californian Constitution is a state one. A federal Constitution means that it is relied upon by the governments of several states. The states have to act in a way that promotes the federal constitution. The United States Constitution is depended on by all the states in the USA. All the states have to design their local constitutions in order to promote the objectives of the federal constitution.

A state constitution, on the other hand, refers to a constitution defined to govern a particular state. The Californian Constitution cannot apply in any other state. It operates exclusively within the borders of the state. The United States Constitution applies in all states including California.

The United States Constitution and the Californian Constitution differ in the dynamism they adopted from other constitutions. The United States Constitution is designed to avoid the corruption believed to be rampant in the English constitution. Thus, the design of American Constitution deviated from the English constitutional tradition in various ways. The US adopted the laws they believed would help to avoid corruption. The Californian Constitution, on the other hand, adopted certain doctrines from other constitutions perceived to be helpful to its citizens. The delegates lacked visionary quality that was expressed in the writing of the United States Constitution.

The Californian Constitution does not have a similar Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution. An example is the prohibition against slavery. The Californian Constitution adopted it from the Iowa Constitution, and it is not accepted in the United States Constitution. In addition, the federal constitution contained restrictions against quartering soldiers in private homes. This idea was greatly objected during the drafting of the Californian Constitution, and thus no such restriction was to be observed. However, the Californian Constitution limited the Congress ability to support the armies by appropriations of up to two years at a time. The limitation is not directly reflected in the United State Constitution.

United States Constitution prohibits the violation of fundamental rights provided by the California state and its Constitution. The United States Constitution provides citizens with the basic rights, and the California state in turn explains these rights and provides further protection. The Californian state is accorded the right of additional protections and inclusion of other laws by the United States federal constitution, as long as the additions do not surpass the directives given by the United States Constitution.

Formation of the United States Constitution encouraged the spread of federalism, which is not the case of the Californian Constitution. The main reason for encouraging the spread was the fact that the United States Constitution was a federal constitution. It was meant to govern other states in the USA. The Constitution showed how power would be shared, how each state would relate to each other, the percentage of reliance of the state on the federal constitution. In general, the formation of the United States Constitution showed the possibility for many states to unite and form a federation governed by one general constitution. The principle is the basis of current treaties created among different countries. It is also the ideology behind the formation of regional trading blocs such as COMESA, ECOWAS. The Californian Constitution, on the other hand, expressed the possibility to for people to organize and establish a state within a large country and enhance self-governance of the people.

In conclusion, as much as there are difference between the United States Constitution and the Californian Constitution, the similarities outweigh the differences.

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